Monday, March 21, 2011

US CONTRACTOR FOUND GUILTY IN CUBA


Alan Gross, seen here with his wife Judy, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for spying by a Cuban court. Photograph: Ho/Reuters

A Cuban court has found U.S. contractor Alan Gross guilty of crimes against the state and sentenced him to 15 years in prison, a verdict that is sure to have sweeping repercussions for already-sour relations between Washington and Havana.

The court said prosecutors had proved their case that Gross, 61, was working on a "subversive" program paid for by the United States that aimed to bring down Cuba's revolutionary system. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year sentence.

The U.S. government and Gross's family say he was working to improve internet access for the island's Jewish community, and should be released. Cuban officials have called him a mercenary and maintained his motives were more nefarious.

The court said the program that Gross worked on – part of a $20 million Washington effort to support democracy on the island – showed that the U.S. government continues to seek the government's overthrow.

Gross's backers will try to get him released through a court action or executive pardon, possibly on humanitarian grounds. His wife Judy says Gross has lost more than 90 pounds since his arrest, and that his 26-year-old daughter and 88-year-old mother are both suffering from cancer.

There was no immediate reaction to the verdict from Washington, or Havana


REUTERS

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